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KARE in the Air: Basilica of St. Mary

Our summer drone series takes us above the spectacular piece of architecture that anchors one side of downtown Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — You don't need to be Catholic to be in love with the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. 

This gorgeous piece of architecture was built between 1907 and 1915, and is considered the very first basilica in the United States. 

Drawn up by noted French designer-architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, the Basilica of St. Mary is so big it takes up an entire city block. It cost $1 million to construct, a fortune in those days. MNOPEDIA reports that Archbishop John Ireland traveled around the state, asking the entire archdiocese to donate in support of the new cathedral. 

Several wealthy donors, both Catholic and protestant, also gave money to the cause. The land for the cathedral was donated in 1905 by Immaculate Conception parish member Lawrence S. Donaldson. 

The Basilica was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. After suffering moisture damage it underwent major restoration in the 1990s, with help from an unlikely partnership. The Cities 97 Basilica Block Party brought beer and rock and pop music to the Basilica grounds, with part of the proceeds going to fix the historic structure. It's now a tradition, having been held every summer since 1995 (except 2020 due to the pandemic). 

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